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Fall Festivals

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New Orleans is known worldwide for celebrating its "joie de vivre," French for "joy of life" and the way this is most often done is with a festival. The city and surrounding areas have dozens of festivals year-round, celebrating everything from food to culture to music to art and many other fun things.

This coming fall is no exception as many of these festivals will be held in a number of venues celebrating and commemorating a wide variety of offerings. Several of the larger festivals, such as the Voodoo Experience and others are listed separately in this month's newsletter. Listed below, in chronological order, are some of the smaller festivals taking place in New Orleans this fall.

Art for Arts' Sake
October 2, 2010

Essence Fest

Held every year on the first Saturday in October, Art for Arts' Sake is the annual fall showcase for the city's Warehouse Arts District and Magazine Street Corridor. Dozens of the two districts' art and antiques galleries and restaurants open their doors to art lovers and connoisseurs of fine cuisine from early evening till late at night. The nearby Contemporary Arts Center celebrates Art for Arts' sake with a variety of new exhibits and musical performances.

For more information, click here.

New Orleans Film Festival
October 14-21, 2010

For nearly as long as films have been made, dating back to the Silent Film Era of a century ago, New Orleans has been a favorite location for shooting and production. Several thousand full-length feature films, made-for TV/cable movies, TV show episodes, documentaries, commercials and other visual presentations have been shot here, especially in recent years. The city's old architecture, its inventory of stately homes, its key location on the Mississippi River and close to the Bayou Country, plus its film-friendly tax credit program have all been long successful in attracting Hollywood's attention.

In commemoration of this great film heritage, the New Orleans Film & Video Festival began 21 years ago and continues to showcase locally made or locally based film production. This year's festival kicks off on October 14 and runs through the entire week, ending on the 21st. Dozens of features, ranging from "shorts" to full-length features and everything in between will be available for viewing.

The festival continues its tradition as Louisiana's preeminent film event, presenting an eclectic program of films each fall with legendary New Orleans as its backdrop. Offering filmmakers and film fans alike an ideal setting in a world-famous city, the festival draws in over 7,000 attendees each year. Both established and emerging filmmakers gain media exposure, connect with the region's diverse audiences, and participate in an acclaimed event attended by industry professionals as well as celebrated luminaries. Over the past two decades, the FilmFest has welcomed numerous indie icons into its family, including Todd Solondz (Happiness), David Gordon Green (Undertow), and Richard Linklater (Slacker). Many of the festival's alumni have gone on to be honored at Sundance, Cannes, and Toronto, and even at the Academy Awards.

This year's FilmFest will take place at various venues citywide. More about the festival will be announced in the month leading up to the event. Check local listings if you are planning to attend and visit the festival's website.

Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival
October 16-17, 2010

New Orleans is well known for many things, especially its music and food. Both are celebrated on the weekend of October 16-17 when the 5th Annual Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival returns to Lafayette Square in the heart of the city's Central Business District.

The festival is free of charge and open to the public.

Conveniently located between Camp Street and St. Charles Avenue one block from Poydras Street, Lafayette Square will host two stages for nearly two dozen blues artists, headlined by hitmakers Taj Mahal and Barbara Lynn. All around the square will be booths offering various types of crafts and some of the best barbecue in the South. The festival is one of several presented by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, the same organization that produces the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival every year.

Here is a partial list of confirmed performers:

Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010

  • Taj Mahal
  • Otis Taylor with Don Vappie
  • Corey Harris
  • Henry GrayLuther Kent & Trick Bag
  • Honey Island Swamp Band
  • Grandpa Elliot

Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010

  • Ruthie Foster
  • Li'l Ed & the Blues Imperials
  • Barbara Lynn
  • The Stanton Moore Band with Anders Osborne
  • Shannon McNally & Hot Sauce
  • The Joe Krown Trio featuring Walter "Wolfman" Washington and Russel Batiste
  • Mem Shannon

Hours of the festival are 10:30 a.m.-8:15 p.m. Saturday and 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday. For more information, including a convenient map, go to

Voodoo Experience
October 29-31, 2010

Essence Fest

It's the biggest music festival of the fall season and second only to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in terms of size for the entire year. The Voodoo Experience brings three days of live entertainment to City Park over Halloween weekend with such top name stars as Ozzy Osbourne, My Morning Jacket, Jakob Dylan, Drake and dozens of other local and international favorites.

For more information on Voodoo Experience, click here.

Louisiana Swamp Festival (Swamp Fest)
November 6-7, 2010

Swamp Fest

This annual celebration of Louisiana's Cajun culture and heritage takes place the first weekend in November, appropriately, at the Louisiana Swamp Exhibit in the Audubon Zoo. Come out and enjoy two days of great Cajun and Zydeco music, fabulous Cajun food and exquisite works of art and craftsmanship.

For more information about Swamp Fest at Audubon Zoo, please call (504) 581-4629 or 1-800-774-7394 or click here.

Congo Square Rhythms Festival at Armstrong Park
November 14, 2010

In the years before the slaves were liberated, their owners in New Orleans would give them a "day off" from their free labor on Sundays to get out and enjoy a little revelry. They would gather in a place known as Congo Square to sing and dance and beat on drums in keeping with their ancestral African heritage.

From these hypnotic African rhythms and other strains of music that filtered into New Orleans in the late 1800s came the musical art form now known as Jazz.

Today that colorful African heritage is celebrated in the same locale, in Congo Square, which is now a section of Louis Armstrong Park in the 900 block of North Rampart Street. The fourth annual Congo Square Rhythms Festival is being held on Sunday, November 14. It is presented by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, and held in conjunction with the Foundation's Tom Dent Congo Square Symposium.

The late Tom Dent, for whom the symposium was named, was a noted New Orleans writer, folklorist and civil rights activist.

This free, day-long festival celebrates the historic role of Congo Square as the birthplace of American music. On Saturday, Nov. 13, the Tom Dent Symposium will feature panel discussions in topics relating to the mixture of world cultures that took place at Congo Square, resulting in the development of jazz and, by extension, all of American music.

On Sunday, Nov. 14, the best of African drumming and dance will be presented plus music from Africa, the Caribbean and the American South.

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc. was established in 1970 with a mission to sow the seeds of our unique culture for generations to come. As the nonprofit owner of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival -- Jazz Fest -- the foundation works all year long to promote and develop the culture of New Orleans and the surrounding region. Their areas of focus are education, economic development and culture.

The festival opens at 11 a.m. and is free. Louis Armstrong Park is located on North Rampart Street, nine blocks above Canal Street and opposite the French Quarter. For more information on the Congo Square Rhythms Festival check local listings as the date gets closer.

Christmas New Orleans Style
November and December 2010

Swamp Fest

Wrapping up the year in a festive mood, Christmas New Orleans Style offers more than a month's worth of holiday concerts, holiday shopping opportunities, cooking demonstrations, dazzling indoor and outdoor lighting displays and dozens of other special events. "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," as the old song goes and nowhere is that more true than here in the Crescent City where holiday traditions are celebrated in style – New Orleans Style!

For more information about Christmas New Orleans Style, click here.

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